Tight End Jared Cook
The Oakland Raiders tight ends group has a little something for everybody.
You're a fan of physical, bruising tight ends who make their money dominating at the line of scrimmage? Enter Lee Smith, who even though he has just 38 career receptions, has proven to be an integral part of the Raiders offense since signing with the team in 2015.
Let's say the athletic, pass catching tight end is most your speed, well, the Silver and Black have you covered there as well following the addition of Jared Cook in free agency.
Now entering his third NFL season, Clive Walford falls somewhere in between the two as far as where his skills lie; while he already has six career receiving touchdowns under his belt, at 6-4 and 250 pounds, the former Miami Hurricane on doubt boasts the frame to be a dominant blocker as well.
While Walford, along with Pharaoh Brown, Gabe Holmes, and Ryan O'Malley, certainly benefit from now having Cook in their meeting room, Smith believes that Walford in particular is now getting the best of both worlds.
"I'm a big, stiff, blocking tight end who just goes out there and beats my head against the wall all day, and that's great for Clive too, but Clive, and the young tight ends that might do something a little different than what I do, what I get paid for, are able to watch a true pro like Jared every day," explained Smith. "It's great for the tight ends room, but more importantly, it's great for the whole offense."
"Lee is a hell of a blocker, and Jared is a hell of a pass catcher," added Waford. "Myself, I'm balanced, I do both really good, so I watch Lee, and I watch Jared almost every day we go out, and that's how I learn from them, and ask them certain questions to help myself."
And hopefully Walford has been taking notes since the team opened Training Camp 2017.
Smith looks to be picking up right where he left off in 2016 before an injury forced him to miss the final 12 games of the regular season, and although it's just been a few days, the growing rapport between Cook and quarterback Derek Carr has been on full display during practice.
Walford has made an impact too, and he credits some of his production to one, simple fact; he's healthy.
The dynamic tight end missed a majority of the Offseason Workout Program in 2016 recovering from injury, but that was not the case this season, and so far, being able to come to work at full strength has paid dividends for No. 88.
"Last year I was kind of timid on breaking with my injury that I had, and making certain cuts, but now it's behind me, and I can do whatever," Walford explained.
In addition to the sheer amount of reps he was able to get this offseason just by being healthy, Walford now heads into his third NFL training camp stronger than he was just a season ago.
"Last year my leg wasn't as strong as it is now," he said. "I had to take all offseason to build up that strength, and get my quad back to where it needed to be in order to go out and perform."
Over the past two seasons, Walford has seen the Silver and Black transform from a team scratching to make noise in the division to a group that some now believe has the talent to come out of the AFC at season's end.
But as much positive energy is flowing around the Raiders right now, Walford knows all too well that games – and more specifically, championships – aren't won in August.
"We have a lot of weapons, but football ain't won on paper," Walford said. "You have to actually go out and put in the work to achieve what we want to achieve at the end of the season."
The Raiders are off Wednesday, and will return to the field Thursday afternoon.
-After participating in practice Monday, wide receiver Amari Cooper was unable to go Tuesday afternoon. Instead, he watched from the sidelines wearing basketball shorts and a hat.
-Special Teams Coordinator Brad Seely is forever teaching. During one of the special teams periods in Tuesday's practice, Seely made sure to coach up wide receiver Jaydon Mickens on his footwork, encouraging the second-year player to get through the drill the right way.
-Running back DeAndré Washington had a nice day at the office Tuesday. While Marshawn Lynch has understandably been in the spotlight since the team opened training camp, Washington made sure to make himself noticed Tuesday, taking a handoff from Carr during an 11-on-11 session, making a nice cut through the line, then pulling off an impressive spin move to launch himself into the open field.
-Cordarrelle Patterson has looked good as a pass-catching threat over the past week, but Tuesday, we got a chance to see the kick returning savant do what he does best. After catching the kick, Patterson turned up-field, made a quick move, and then seemingly glided past a defender as he headed for daylight. That man runs smooth.
-Cornerback Chris Humes flashed a little athleticism during the day's session as well, making an impressive play on a ball intended for wide receiver Ishmael Zamora.
-Have a day, KJ Brent. Big No. 80 was everywhere Tuesday, making plays both in traffic, as well as in the open field. His best play of the day came towards the end of practice when he hauled in a pass in the corner of the end zone with a cornerback draped all over him.
-Running back George Atkinson III re-joined the Raiders on the practice field Monday, and following practice Tuesday, he spent some extra time on the field, getting some mental reps after the day's work wrapped up.
Song Of The Day:
"Tuesday" – ILOVEMAKONNEN (Feat. Drake)
An appropriate song considering the calendar.
"It's not good enough, that's all. I explained it to our guys. It's not what we needed to do. We needed to come out and practice crisper, sharper, cleaner football. It's one day. Just like if it's one period, you learn a lesson. I always shoot straight with our guys."
-Head Coach Jack Del Rio discussing Tuesday's practice.
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